Tuesday, February 28, 2006


One thing I like to do after my watercolors dry, is to paint water on top of the pigment, and blot it off with a napkin. It creates a similar look to batik (wax resist). I particularly like the technique in this sketch of belugas. Notice the dots in the shadows on the whales, the zig-zaggy lines under their chins.

Thank you, friends at the Pie Place, for the use of your card racks!

Look Who's Coming To Dinner

This painting is #2 of a tryptych that I did a while back. It's called "Look Who's Coming To Dinner" and shows beavers in panels #1 and #3. This is one of those spontaneous paintings that I did at my dining room table, and even though the moose looks a bit like an elk, it is one of my favorite images. In fact, I use part of this image as my gallery logo. Acrylic on wood, this painting was sold out of the local coffee shop, JAVA MOOSE. I'm including it here in my blog to show something of a different medium. Of course acrylics go on opaque while watercolors are transparent. I like to think my style is recognizeable regardless of the medium.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Earlier today I posted the fish picture with the lilypad, and mentioned that it meant something to me, but I didn't say what it meant.

I used to have an outdoor goldfish pond. I filled it in, and plant potatoes there now. But when it was a pond, I had somewhere around 20 goldfish and koi in there. I also had lilypads growing there. Anyway, when I'd look into the water, I wouldn't see any fish. They would all hide. But if I sat down next to the pond with a cup of coffee or my notebook, and was still, I would begin to see fluttering fins and fish peeking out. The longer I sat still, the more they would come out. They would even eat from my hand.

So one day, it occurred to me that that is how it is with creativity. When I'm rushing through my day late for this or that, fretting, poems and paintings don't come to me. They don't cross my mind. But when I sit still and am open, pen or paintbrush in hand, the creative thoughts come to me and allow me to capture them on the page.

So that's what goldfish and koi represent to me. Creative thoughts.

Harbor Seal

Remember the movie Andre, about the seal? Well, that was dumb. The real Andre was a harbor seal, not a sea lion like in the film. I met the real Andre. I was even in the original documentary that eventually led to the film.

My grandparents lived in Maine, and we happened to see one of Andre's performances. If you ever see that original film, I'm the guy standing on the rock with the camera. That's about all I have to say about that. Don't believe everything you see in movies.


I spent most of the weekend painting... Now this morning I'm a little worried. Are they too "cute"? I look at them and I love the quality of the line achieved by drawing with a brush, the subtle variations in line width. The absolute blackness of ink. I think of my own personal symbolism of a goldfish under a lilypad and the spiritual significance these images hold for me. Unless I stand there interpreting them, will anyone get a glimmer that they are more than just cute cartoon doodles? Or does that matter? I keep saying they are just meant to be fun. And maybe that is enough. I thought the speckling of the harbor seal's fur was particularly effective and beautiful. Layers of watercolor, lifted here and there with drops of water, blotted.

The feeling is like stagefright. Now that I know my lines and blocking, I wonder if the script was ever that good to begin with. Always those doubts. But opening night is always such a rush. Same thing here. Friday and Saturday evenings will be awesome. Everyone will have fun. We'll crowd into that unique space, shoulder to shoulder. Talk, laugh, love.

If anyone shows up at all.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Cook County News Herald


I made the paper today! Joan printed one of my dream fragments at almost full size. It looks great. :-)

Can't wait for the party next week!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Acrylic Paintings

These are a couple of my animal paintings... You can see them at my painting page. These are acrylic on wood. I sold a lot of this type painting over the last couple of years. One nice thing about them was that you could take them home and put them right on the wall. They didn't need any framing and there was no glass to break. The wood was all recycled odds and ends from a cabinet shop that would have otherwise gone onto the burn pile. I think it's a great way to paint, and I'm sure I'll do more of this type as summer nears. For now though, I'm doing watercolors on paper. It's good to mix it up a bit - keeps things new and fresh.

Oh, the supplies I was looking for yesterday came today. I'll post brand new work tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Today I was hoping to get a shipment of supplies to get more work ready for my show next weekend. It didn't come. Tomorrow. Hopefully.

I like this self portrait. It makes me laugh.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Excuse Me While I Have Some Fun

Lately... The last few days... I've been painting in a totally different style. Then I occurred to me I'm doing something more like what I did when I was a kid. In Jr. High, and even as early as elementary school, I used to attract a crowd of kids watching me draw. Someone would call out "draw a horse" or "draw a squirrel" and I would. I remember they would ask me questions like "how do you know where to start?"

So lately I'm filling pages with goofy little cartoon animals and people, drawn with a small brush on paper, then watercolored in. Now I know about design elements like "horror vacui" and artists like Marc Chagall. A friend all but accused me of being trite with these. But I don't care. They are fun. The images here are from my brand new as of tonight "Dog Vacui." The painting didn't fit in the scanner, so you are not seeing the whole image. I haven't counted the dogs in the picture yet, but there are a couple of details to show you what it looks like up close. I did another one of woodland animals that live in this area (Moose, Deer, Bear, Fish, Fox, Bobcat, Owl, Eagle, Raccoon, Otters, Rabbits, Porcupine, seagull, Loon... you get the idea), and another of mostly fish. Anyway, there are 6 or 7 in this style that will be part of the opening on March 3 and 4 (had to get that in again). I would love to hear what you think. And later, I will post some of my more "serious" paintings. Today is a day for fun. And Puppies. :-)

Focusing On Grand Marais

Most people in my town think of me as a painter. I was actually a photography major in Art School. For several years, I have been photographing Grand Marais, Minnesota, the beautiful town I am lucky enough to live in. My photos have appeared several times in the local newspapers, and also in George Wilkes' book The Angry Trout Notebook. For the first time, I am going to be exhibiting and selling my photos in the gallery.

The Grand Marais harbor is my favorite location to shoot photos. Every day, the mood of Lake Superior is different. The sky is so moody, and reflected in the water. Sunrise, sunset. Encased in ice or summer sun. Washed in spray, bathed in late afternoon glow or that timeless feeling of crisp blue northern air. The familiar boats I know by name, buildings that have been demolished one way or another, documenting the constantly changing harborscape.

Monday, February 20, 2006


President's Day. I thought I'd post three miscellaneous pictures from the weekend. The first was inspired by watching AMC's presentation of "The Wolf Man Meets Frankenstein" or something like that. The second abstract image is a mixed media piece with watercolor, acrylic and ink. Lastly, Tumnus the faun at home. Poor guy has an inner struggle going on... Well, enjoy your holiday!

Today is the day Joan is coming from the newspaper to take pictures and interview me. Fun!

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Someone said it was 24 below today, so I decided to stay inside and paint. Some flowers to make me feel like spring. An abstract for a sense of fun. And then I had this idea to cover sheets of watercolor paper with faces. I grabbed a kind of big brush and gave myself the challenge to paint small faces with a big brush. After the watercolor dried, I took a small brush and doodled in faces with ink. Then I cut the sheets into 4x6 pieces and will mount the panels onto cardstock. Let me know what you think! Pictured here are 3 examples of about 50 "face fragments."

Stay warm. Be happy. Think of spring.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Eric Fragment

In November 2005, Great Northern Gallery hosted a concert by Eric Himan. Eric and Andy Moore played an awesome show at the Old Playhouse aka Betsy Bowen Studio. This "Eric Fragment" is from a painting I did from his show. The initial dream fragments were full size paintings that, for one reason or another, didn't work for me, so I cut them up. This one illustrates that process quite well, I think. When I ran out of rejected paintings, I started painting sheets of watercolor paper specifically to cut up. At first I thought that seemed a bit contrived, then I realized that every painting is contrived. Hmmm. So there you have it.

If you haven't heard Eric's music, please do. His first, Self-titled and now sold out and retired CD, is available on iTunes. I Go On, All For Show, Dark Horse and One Night Stands: Eric Himan live are all available, and are well worth purchasing!

Eric's song "No Urgency" was featured on LOVE ROCKS, a double CD compilation put out by the Human Rights Campaign. Great music to benefit a great cause. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Opening Reception

I will be having an opening reception in the gallery Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4. Since this is a new blog, I'll let those of you in cyberspace know that my gallery, the Great Northern Gallery in Grand Marais, MN is housed in a 1948 Great Northern Railway caboose. I'm going to be featuring new paintings, primarily the Dream Fragments, as well as larger watercolor and acrylic paintings on paper, wood and canvas, and my new photo cards. All the card images are mounted on quality cardstock, come with an envelope, of course, and are each enclosed in protective plastic. Photo cards are $3 and the Dream Fragment cards are $5 each. Joan Farnum of the Cook County News Herald will be writing a story to announce this in the paper.

Dream Fragments

Dream Fragments

Not every word written makes it into the book. Not every dream is remembered. Sometimes during the course of the day, a dream memory comes back to me… just a fragment that brings the feeling of the dream with it. Are they landscapes or figures? Storm clouds over sawtooth mountains, misty valleys? A glimpse of a fin in the koi pond? Yes to all of the above and more. I dip my net into the collective unconscious and retrieve this wriggling detail to look at together. You bring the rest of the story.

These cards are fragments of original watercolor and acrylic paintings, suitable for mailing or framing.

See examples of Dream Fragments at my gallery site